Penn Celebrates the Arts (PCTA)

Penn Celebrates the Arts (PCTA)

A Town Hall for the Class of 2027

About Penn Celebrates the Arts (PCTA)

For the past two decades, Penn’s signature New Student Orientation (NSO) event has been a gala event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For most of our students, it is their introduction to one of the world’s great collections—and through it, to the importance of the arts as a defining part of our city’s culture and history.

With PCTA programming, we look forward to realize a series of related goals:

  • Introducing you to cultural institutions whose work enriches and enlivens the city—many of which have connections and partnerships with Penn.
  • Promote visits and experiences throughout the city of Philadelphia.
  • Encourage you to think of the arts not only in themselves, but as a vital tool in areas including civic engagement, personal growth, community building, wellness, and more.

This year, we are expanding on this introduction through a new program, Penn Celebrates the Arts (PCTA), that focuses on the vital role of the arts in our lives generally, and to the city of Philadelphia. A special emphasis here will be the performing arts—theater, music, dance, spoken word, and more. Individually and together, these exist through a wide-ranging, diverse, energetic community of companies and artists who both reflect and define our urban home.

At the Town Hall on Friday, August 25, we’ll place special emphasis on that last point. A panel of recent alums, whose careers and experiences have taken them in many directions—but they share what the arts have led them to both professional and deeply personal satisfaction.

Welcome to Penn!

Introducing the PCTA Town Hall…

David Fox (New Student Orientation)

David has been at Penn since 1990, and in addition to serving as the NSO Director, he is also a member of the Penn Theatre Arts faculty, where he teaches courses on modern American theater and musical theater. In addition, he is a theatre critic and culture writer for publications including Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Magazine, The New York Times, Parterre Box, and more. He has lectured for the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Opera, and appeared on Radio Times and other programs. He also maintains the cultural blog, Reclining Standards.

Chloe Reison (The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation)

Chloe Reison is the Associate Director of The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation, a centralized program at the University of Pennsylvania that provides grants and other forms of strategic support to artists, faculty, cultural centers, students, and other arts advocates at Penn. She joined the The Sachs Program in 2017 to establish its grantmaking initiative, and prior to that, she worked for the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage supporting arts and culture across the five-county region of Southeastern Pennsylvania. She has an MFA from Penn’s Weitzman School pf Design (‘12) and a BS from Skidmore College (‘08).

Stuart Jasper (Penn Live Arts)

Stuart Jasper currently serves as the Managing Director at Penn Live Arts, a position he has held for more than 15 years, where he oversees the organization’s financial administration, human resources, information technology, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, etc. Prior to joining Penn Live Arts, Stuart served as the Managing Director of Milwaukee Shakespeare, the city’s only professional theatre company devoted to the classics. Stuart holds a master’s from the Manhattan School of Music, and a bachelor’s from St. Olaf College.  

Our Program Panelists

Devi Bass (College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2023)

Devi is the Grants and Front of House Manager for FringeArts, a nonprofit arts presenter located on the Philadelphia waterfront. Currently, she is working on mounting the 2023 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, which will feature over 300 shows and 1,000 performances across all performance disciplines. At FringeArts she manages ticketing, patron services, front of house staffing, and grants project management. She has a passion for nonprofit work, previously serving as Director of OperaSons at Cosmic Writers.

Devi is a recent alumna of The College of Arts and Science at the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a major in Political Science and minors in Psychology, Urban Education, and Theatre Arts. While at Penn, Devi was chair of the Theatre Arts Council and communications coordinator for the Performing Arts council for two years. She also served on the board of the Pennsylvania Players where she worked in stage management, properties design, and costume design. She was the co-recipient of the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women in Leadership Award and the Platt House Whinnery Award.

Philip Chen (Wharton School, Class of 2020)

Philip is the co-founder of The Unscripted Project, an award-winning non-profit focused on leveraging improv as the medium to foster critical social-emotional skills in Philadelphia public schools. As a kid, he experienced firsthand the power of receiving a drama education in building confidence, strengthening communication, and finding his voice. Philip co-founded The Unscripted Project to bring the transformative power of improv education to the lives of students within the classroom and beyond. Outside of Unscripted, he is currently an investor at Fifth Wall, a venture capital firm focused on investing in real estate and climate technology and was formerly an investment banker at Credit Suisse.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Philip is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Finance, Real Estate, and Cinema Studies and the 2020 recipient of the President’s Engagement Prize. At Penn, he was actively involved with the West Philadelphia Tutoring Project, Penn Social Entrepreneurship Movement, Front Row Theatre Company, and the student-run production company, Nexo Productions. In his spare time, Philip is an avid foodie and can be found cooking new recipes and eating his way across the world. He is also a big fan of independent films and satirical sitcoms.

Rowana Miller (College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2022)

Rowana is the founder and Executive Director of Cosmic Writers, a new nonprofit that uses creative writing education to boost K–12 students’ literacy, communication skills, and self-confidence. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and has been awarded the 2023 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Award for Educational Entrepreneurship and the 2022 University of Pennsylvania President’s Engagement Prize.

Rowana has always been passionate about creative writing. She wrote her first novel in middle school and started her first job as a writing tutor shortly afterward. Ever since, Rowana has been writing young adult fiction and working in writing education. Her own writing can be found in the Penn Review, plain china, and Slate Magazine, but her greatest joy is in helping youth to express themselves with clarity and confidence.

Siani Woods (Wharton School, Class of 2020)

Siani is the Assistant General Manager of & Juliet, Shucked, and the upcoming revival of Monty Python’s Spamalot with RCI Theatricals. Previously, she was the AGM of the Broadway productions of Pictures From Home, Ohio State Murders, The Minutes, American Buffalo, and Chicken & Biscuits, as well as the National Tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. She has a background in ticketing analytics and revenue management, having worked on shows such as Ain’t Too Proud and Hadestown. She lovingly calls Ann Arbor, Michigan her hometown, and is an alumna of The Wharton School where she completed an individualized concentration in Commercial Performing Arts Management. While at Penn, Siani served as the Chair of Front Row Theatre Company, as well as the Business Manager for Penn Singers Light Opera Company. She also performed on campus, appearing in roles including Reno in Anything Goes, Morticia in The Addams Family, and Joanne in Company. Throughout her career, she’s prioritized community development and adolescent empowerment, serving as a mentor and coach for middle-schoolers’ public speaking and performance skills for speech & debate competitions.